In just a few months, the best of the best will battle it out and leave everything on the mat to bring home the gold in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling. The 2016 Rio Olympics will be that time again, when every four years the best of the best will maneuver, throw, and pin their way to glory and trying to win a gold medal for their country. Need to brush up on both types of wrestling? You’ve come to the right place.
Greco-Roman wrestling, confusingly enough, originated in 19th century France as an attempt to emulate the styles of ancient Greek and Roman wrestling. It officially debuted on the Olympic circuit in the Athens games of 1896. Whoever can force both of their opponent’s shoulders on the mat for a pin is the winner, unless no pin is achieved, than the competitor with the most technical points walks away victorious.
The main difference separating Greco-Roman wrestling from freestyle lies in the off-limits nature of grapples and takedowns below the waist. Your precious legs are safe in Greco-Roman wrestling, so that slamming, lifting, throwing, and pinning take center stage. The greatest Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler of all time is arguably Alexsander Karelin, also impressively known as the Russian Bear. He didn’t mess around on the mat – his stunning suplexes launched him to three back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 1988, 1992, and 1996, until he was beaten by underdog USA Wrestler Rulon Gardner in the Gold Medal match at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Olympic freestyle wrestling, on the other hand, allows and even encourages attacks below the waist. Single and double-leg takedowns are crucial moves in freestyle wrestling, while in Greco-Roman they are not allowed at all. Freestyle wrestling became hugely popular in the United States and Great Britain during the 19th century, and first premiered at the Olympics during the St. Louis games in 1904.
With a wider variety of moves at one’s disposal, freestyle wrestling focuses more on technique and has different scoring guidelines than Greco-Roman. Freestyle wrestling, it should be noted, does differ from folkstyle, or collegiate wrestling, in that you can lock your hands at any point during the match and no moves are allowed from the bottom position. Osamu Watanabe, one of the most successful Olympic freestyle wrestlers, went undefeated for 180 matches before retiring suddenly at the age of 23.
Be sure to tune in to the Olympic wrestling events in August, and in the meantime rely on Worldwide Sport Supply for all of your wrestling gear needs!